Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 3, 1888
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Trade / CallingGrocer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
BranchSoldier Biographies
Address at EnlistmentLa Grande, Oregon
Theatre of ServiceUnited States of America
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 21, 1971
Age at Death83
Buried AtHillcrest Cemetery, La Grande, Oregon, USA
PlotDivision B, Block 25, Lot 3, Space 7

Desilet, Norman Alexander

Norman Alexander Desilet was born on 3 March 1888 in Norman, Ontario, the community now amalgamated with Kenora in northwestern Ontario. His parents Joseph Desilet and Caroline Provost were both from Quebec, marrying on 21 April 1873 in St Theodore de Chestsy, Montcalm. At the time of the marriage Joseph’s occupation was given as cultivateur (farmer). Over the years the surname was alternately spelled as Desilets. After giving birth to son Emile in 1875, the family briefly lived in Vermont where son William was born in 1878, likely in Rutland. By the time of the 1881 Canada census the family was farming in Ste Agathe, Provencher, Manitoba where other Provost family lived. Daughters born in Manitoba were Diana (1882) and Amanda (1883). By the time of the birth of their next child, daughter Julia Anna in 1886, the family was living in Norman. Following the birth of Joseph Francis in 1890, Joseph Oscar was born in 1892 but sadly he died in 1894. Joseph Oscar Antonnie was born in 1896 and Stella in 1900. At the time of the 1901 census the family was listed in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) where Joseph was working as a saw mill labourer. Amanda died in 1899 in Norman and after the 1901 census further trace of Antonnie was not found.

Around 1907 some of the family immigrated to the United States, with Norman and his parents settling in La Grande, Union, Oregon where Joseph worked as a millwright for the George Palmer Lumber Company. On 26 March 1913 Norman married Lora May White. Born on 13 October 1888 in La Grande, Lora was the daughter of James White and Ella Stuart. Norman and Lora were to make La Grande their home where the 1920 census listed Norman as a grocery store merchant and later censuses and other records as owning and operating the Desilet Barbershop. He was also actively involved in vaudeville as well as other productions in La Grande. First appointed in March of 1917, for many years Norman served as Exalted Ruler with the Elks in La Grande.

Norman signed his WW1 Draft Registration card on 5 June 1917, occupation given as grocer and his wife as a dependent. He was described as medium in height and weight and had dark blue eyes and brown hair. A La Grande newspaper article of 6 August 1918 spoke of Norman having recently arrived at an officers training camp in Eugene while another article of 18 November 1918 reported his return to La Grande from Pike Camp in Arkansas. Further details of his service are unknown. Norman’s brother Joseph served overseas with the 361st Infantry from April of 1918 to April of 1919, returning to the States as a Private 1st Class. Norman later signed his WW2 Draft card on 27 April 1842 in La Grande.

Norman died on 21 August 1971 in the county of Wasco in Oregon, with his last residence given as La Grande. As his sister Diane (Clovis) DeGagne lived in The Dalles, Wasco, perhaps Norman had gone to live with her. He was predeceased by his mother Caroline (1927, La Grande), father Joseph (1935, La Grande), brother William (1959, Scappoose) and his wife Lora (1960, La Grande). His brother Emile had moved back to Canada and his date and place of death are unknown. Norman’s siblings Diana died in October of 1971 in La Dalles, Stella (Paul) Masse in September 1971 in Portland, Joseph Francis in 1980 in Spokane, and Julia Anna (William) Siegrist in 1986 in Portland. Norman and Lora are interred in the Hillcrest Cemetery in La Grande, graves unmarked.

By Judy Stockham

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